South Of The South Island.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Bluff Camping Park

Flag of New Zealand  , Southland,
Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stewart Island off the tip of the bottom of South Island New Zealand, has a Sydney Cove.
Well more correctly Ulva Island in the Paterson's Inlet area of Stewart Island has a Sydney Cove.
I asked our naturalist guide on our bird watching tour how it came to be named, and this is the story she told us.

The boat called the Sydney was wrecked at the bay and the occupants struggled ashore to an extremely hostile reception from the Maoris. In fact, so hostile that they set about eating them all! One person escaped though,16 year old James Caddell who, the story goes was hidden under the ceremonial robes of the chief's daughter, as she had taken a fancy to him. He later married her and remained with the Maoris the rest of his life. He was a key player in peace negotiations between the Maoris and the Settlers.

Travelling down the East Coast of South Island, we had stopped for several interesting sights. Moekai Boulders, (see pics) look like a giant has scattered some giant size marbles on the beach. Futher south, a Petrified Forest on the beach also was worth a look, where the trees have been turned to stone, but still bear all the tree markings. Last on the agenda was Niagara Falls – NZ style - and named firmly tongue in cheek. Whilst we were there having a laugh at the naming of tiny falls Niagara, a German tourist got really snotty about it and was not at all happy she had stopped for a joke.

Finally we arrived at the southernmost point of NZ mainland, the little town of Bluff, and found camping grounds for the night and a booking office to book a ferry for the next day to Stewart Island. It was a wild and windy night, but luckily the campground had a camp kitchen where we could cook and stay out of the wind, before retiring under the warm quilt in our campervan.

Next day a large catamaran ferry brought us the one hour by sea, to Stewart Island, the southernmost settlement of NZ. The island experiences fairly bleak weather year round and this day was no exception. Many Scottish immigrants found the island to their liking as the harsh conditions reminded them of home. The names of bays, islands and roads all have a distinctive Scottish flavor. After a walk around the main township of Oban, and to the highest point of the island, we boarded another smaller catamaran for a nature trip around Patterson’s Inlet and to the island of Ulva. The island was declared predator free around 10 years ago and therefore perfect for seeing New Zealand’s native birds. Our bird watching experience was a bit of a fizzer though as the group we were with, were way too noisy. It was like sneaking through the bush looking for birds with a herd of elephants behind us!.

We had hoped to see a Kiwi, but were informed that even though they are living on the islands they are extremely hard to find, particularly in the day time as they are nocturnal. We did see where they had used their long beaks to dig in the ground. It wasn’t until we actually arrived on Stewart Island that we learned that there was in fact a night time kiwi spotting tour available, that had a 90% success rate. We already had our ferry ticket booked to go back later that day and further travel plans made. We felt rather disappointed we had not learned of this earlier as we would have stayed the night and gone on the tour. Nevermind.   

The cruise afforded us a close up look at Albatross, NZ Fur Seals, and a Fiordland Penguin (who was a little lost considering Fiordland was quite a way to the North!)

After the ferry ride back to Bluff we headed off straight away ourselves for Fiordland. I think we would have been much quicker than the lost Fiordland Penguin. We are making good use of the summer daylight hours. We arrived at a campsite, 50 kms short of Milford Sound, five hours later than leaving Bluff, and with enough daylight to set up camp at 9.30pm.

Tourist Tips: We took a combo deal paying 123NZ dollars each for the ferry to Stewart Is and 75NZ dollars for the Paterson Inlet Cruise with Stewart Island Experience. On arrival we did find there were alternatative tours available see or
KIWI VIEWING: Stewart Island it would seem is the only place where KIWI can be seen in the wild and tours require advance bookings. See Bravo Adventure Cruises, email 140 dollars pp or email 130 dollars pp. These are not recommendations, simply information. We eventually saw KIWI at Zealandia, The Karori Sanctuary Experience, in Wellington, while not strictly in the wild, a very similar experience and much cheaper. 
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warmerwhx on

It is so lovely!

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